Pallet changer systems, in general, automatically transport the work piece into the working area, providing complete production automation. The tool holder is usually installed on work tables or pallets that are standardized. Pallet changer systems then move and manipulate the pallets.
The pallet changer, after being controlled by the machine control unit, ensures that the machined workpiece is automatically exchanged with a rough workpiece that needs to be machined.
This avoids the assembly and disassembly processes of machined or to-be-machined parts without disrupting the machine’s working flow. Parts will be disassembled and reassembled in a darkened region of the machining by an operator or, in more automated circumstances, by an anthropomorphic robot.
An illustration of a pallet changer system on a vertical machining center is shown below:
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Changing the Playing Field
CNC machine operators can load and unload workpieces in one area of the tool while the VMC is busy manufacturing chips and parts in another with automatic pallet changers. With a simple push of a button, these turntable-style pallets are automatically pushed into and out of the machine.
For these machines, the increases in spindle utilization and operator productivity are dramatic and significant. Machine shops can cut costs and boost flexibility without expanding their staff or shop floor by letting workers load, unload, and check parts on one pallet while the machine continues to work on components fixture on the second pallet without interruption.
Lead times that are a fraction of a second
A frightened buyer has called every establishment, appealing for delivery the next day or perhaps the same afternoon. Shops can use their VMC / pallet changer system to set up and operate several tasks on a single machine with the addition of extra featuring to satisfy these types of needs. On a VMC with an automatic pallet changer, for example, an operator might run a small job of 100 pieces alongside a large production job of thousands of pieces on the same pallet. Workers may be able to finish work in a single shift, minimizing the requirement for extra shifts merely to fulfill a certain order.
FMS is not to be confused with Pallet Pool Systems
A simple linear pallet system, also known as a flexible manufacturing system (FMS), automates the loading and unloading of workpieces from a central storage site to one or more machining centers. The workpieces are transported on a straight rail by a vehicle having additional axes of motion that allow it to carry the work into a machine, onto its table, and out again after it is finished. Jobs are set up at a central station rather than on separate workstations, and a central computer oversees the distribution and execution of the work.
Workpieces are bolted to fixtures, which are bolted to standard pallets in the most usual layout. Because any job can go to any machine at any time as long as the machine is configured for that standard pallet, the system’s flexibility is maximized. Another important aspect of linear pallet systems is their flexibility to be expanded after initial installation to include more machine tools, storage, and even non machining processes such as inspection. Some machines feature ten or more machining centers, as well as dozens of pallet shelves piled three floors high.